Speaking About God

The Presbyterian Church USA recently recommended, via its General Assembly, that new language for the Triune names of God be used in public worship. Suggestions included: “Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child and Life-giving Womb.” Another was “Overflowing Font, Living Water and Flowing River.” Then there was: “Rock, Cornerstone and Temple” as well as “Rainbow of Promise, Ark of Salvation and Dove of Peace.”

This kind of silliness attempts to alter the use of “male” gendered language for God as used in the Bible, which is considered offensive to some members. The problem is that the Bible already addressed the issue by making it clear that God is not gendered at all. But God chooses to reveal himself very clearly in language that carries some very specific ideas.The church has always seen this as important. This is not an issue of patriarchy or chauvinism. Further, the Bible speaks of God in terms that actually do accommodate female imagery. But when it comes to “naming God” this issue is too important to make up terms like these. Most people, even in the PCUSA, know better.

I like what Rev. Mark Brewer, the pastor of the PCUSA member church Bel Air Presbyterian (California), said about these innovations: “You might as well put in Huey, Dewey and Louie.”

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